We’re a small team based in London, but Little Printer owners are all over the world, with many different interests, speaking many different languages. So providing a platform that allows anyone to contribute publications has always been a vital part of our approach.
Exactly a year ago I started noodling around with Phantom.js, wondering if we could move all of our rendering from Cairo and Pango to a web browser that rendered websites as 1-bit, 384px wide images. We knew we wanted an API, and it was clear that our existing architecture had a higher barrier to entry than was strictly necessary. In their simplest form, after all, Little Printer publications are just pictures!
A year on, we’ve released the API, launched a developer site, held multiple after school clubs and a hack day. The API and developer tools have been live for about six months, and we’ve gradually been pushing out new features and fine tuning others. We also have the beginnings of a new Messaging API for pushing things to printers outside of the scheduled delivery architecture.
Since we announced our API, a lot of industrious programmers have been hard at work making things with it.
Right now we have 52 publications live on BERG Cloud, all built with our API. Of those, 32 were submitted by external developers. People have submitted publications about the weather, the news, the night sky, baseball, and ham radio. We have publications in German, Arabic, Japanese and Dutch.
There are examples of people building Little Printer publications using Google App Engine, Camping and Node.js. Some people have put up their entire publications on Github, like Constellatio, Maze-a-day, On This Day, Utata Tribal Photography and Lunchbox Notes.
There are even some things being made using our (very alpha) messaging API. Little Receipt Printer uses Little Printer to connect to Shopify and print out a receipt for every new order. Dan Catt has made littleprinteremailbridge which you can use to email pretty much anything to Little Printer. This has sprung a number of IFTTT recipes.
A couple of things! On Tuesday I open sourced our weather publication on Github (fork it here). The rest of those built by BERG will follow shortly. The decision to open source our publications was made primarily because it seems like the *right* thing to do. It means we can be open about bug fixes / additional features for publications that we’re adding. It also means there are more code examples of publications using the full gamut of our API, and examples that people can build on and learn from.
The Little Printer after school clubs are now going to be on the last Wednesday of every month, from 6pm in our Old St studio. The next one will be on Wednesday the 30th of January. As ever, anybody is welcome to pop along for a chat and a slice of pizza.
We’re planning another hack day. This one will be open to everyone and will coincide with the next tranche of developer tool updates and new API features.
And that’s about it. You can stay right up to date about Little Printer developer news, as well as details of forthcoming after school clubs and hack days, by following our developer account on Twitter.
Since publishing this, a few people have gotten in touch with their own work! David Wilkinson has made Little notepad using our messaging API and Martin Solli has put up the code for his flickr time capsule publication Nostalgia.